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Health and safety first

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The BCSA actively promotes safe working practices which have seen on-site accidents dramatically reduced

The BCSA’s successful work in promoting good practice in health and safety has recently been rewarded with a national award. NSC explains how the Association helps its members achieve a safer industry.

Health and safety is a serious matter, and the promotion of best practice and safe working methods can be a life saving exercise. The construction industry can be dangerous, but the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA) and the steel construction sector as a whole has taken huge strides to make it a safer environment.Highlighting and recognising the outstanding contribution the BCSA has made to provide health and safety assistance, it was awarded the SME Assistance Trophy at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Occupational Health and Safety Awards earlier this year.RoSPA decided to create the new award to celebrate the exceptional work carried out by trade associations offering health and safety advice to SME’s.

The BCSA is the first ever winner of the award, which recognises the contribution made by a trade association or similar body in providing health and safety assistance to small and medium sized enterprises.

The judges were particularly impressed by the level of dedication of the BCSA in providing advice and assistance to the full range of businesses in the sector from large to small. BCSA will hold the Trophy for one year and has also received a commemorative plaque to keep permanently. Winning the award also entitles BCSA to use the award logo on literature and websites.

The judging criteria were: awareness raising and information provision; policy development; performance improvement and recognition; services and benefits, and competence development and research.

Peter Walker, BCSA Health, Safety and Training Manager, said: “We are delighted to be the first ever winners of this Trophy, which reflects the importance our industry places on health and safety. The judges were looking for hard evidence of our performance, diligence and commitment towards improvement. I am proud that we have demonstrated those qualities to the highest standard among our peers.”

Reducing accidents

One of the key targets set by the Government and the Health & Safety Executive in the 2000/01  ‘Revitalising Health and Safety’ campaign was to reduce reportable accidents by 10% over a ten year period.

“BCSA members have achieved a 60% reduction in this time, which is a very good result that demonstrates the industry is committed to improving working practices and procedures,” says Mr Walker.

“Some of these procedures have been developed by the BCSA health and safety committee to address current issues and best practice, based on shared experiences and intended to help to reduce accidents and injuries.”

Another area which has seen a continuing reduction of reportable injuries in falls from height. No such accidents were recorded during 2009 and 2010, a statistic the BCSA is justly proud of.

“This is a significant achievement for the constructional steelwork industry, compared to 2005 when there was 14 falls from height that resulted in a lost time injury,” comments Mr Walker.

An earlier trend did however show an increase in this injury category, associated with falls from a height below 2m. This was reversed between 2008 and 2009, and an excellent 40% reduction was later reported for this sub-category. Ongoing accident monitoring reveals more good news as there have been no reportable injuries as a result of falls from above 2m in height in 2011 so far.

Injuries from handling, lifting and moving had remained constantly high over a four year period, however, in this category another significant improvement of 40% has been achieved in recent times.

Knowledge sharing 

The drive to reduce injuries in the constructional steelwork industry has been a priority for the BCSA and has been aided by a number of programmes and knowledge sharing opportunities. Setting up relevant committees and services to help its members achieve the best possible health and safety targets has scored results, impressing RoSPA along the way.

To get these results a Health and Safety Committee reports direct to the BCSA council. This committee meets quarterly and is always very well attended. The venue for the meetings is the BCSA London office and the agenda often includes a guest speaker, such as a spokesperson from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Problems raised by member companies, clients or the authorities are discussed and this often results in the creation of a working party for the development of industry guides.

Particularly aimed at SME member companies that do not employ a full time health and safety practitioner, the BCSA has set up the Safety in Steel Construction (SiSC) advisory service. It is supported and monitored by the BCSA to ensure individual advisers that visit members are up to date with the main issues affecting the industry.

Another BCSA initiative was to join the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP), a forum comprising a number of other industry bodies and approved by the Government.

Over the years, the proliferation of health and safety pre-qualification questionnaires has placed increasing burdens on companies to repeatedly pre-qualify for both public and private sector work. This situation has become an unacceptable business burden to many small contractors and in turn, leads to a negative view of health and safety.

Joining the forum was the BCSA’s response to recognising this unnecessary duplication.

The forum’s schemes all comply with the core criteria for health and safety competence in the Approved Code of Practice to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Health and Safety Publications

The following health and safety publications can be purchased from the BCSA and can found on: 

  • Guide to Steel Erection in Windy Conditions
  • Guide to the Erection of Multi-Storey Buildings
  • Guide to the Installation of Deep Decking
  • Guide to the Management of Site Lifting Operations
  • Guide to Work at Height during the Loading and Unloading of Steelwork
  • Guide to the Erection of  Steel Bridges
  • Code of Practice for Metal Decking and Stud Welding
  • Code of Practice for the Erection of Low Rise Buildings
  • Health & Safety on Steel Construction Sites: Guide for Employees
  • Health and Safety in the Office
  • H&S in the Workshop for Employees: A Guide for Steelwork Contractors
  • Allocation of design Responsibilities in Constructional Steelwork

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